Every morning a string of thoughts parades through my mind. There is a cast of usual suspects among these thoughts: “morning already????? I just fell asleep!!!,” “memo to me: no dairy products after 8 PM,” “what day is it? Please let it be Saturday…please, please, please!!!” I try to throw “I put this day in your hands, God” in there every morning. Some mornings I forget.
Lest you think I’m being absurdly religious on a Friday morning, allow me to tell you that this particular thought has little to do with religion: I am thinking about J’s Spring Break. I have previously mentioned that I do believe in God, and in his sense of humor. TGG is agnostic and we often have rather animated discussions about the subject; my husband quietly prays every night before he starts snoring vigorously. J is the person closest to God that I have ever known, regardless of the fact that he has no clue about religion or faith.
TGG’s agnosticism harks back to the Eighth Grade when he had a Math test. Yes. TGG is agnostic because of Mathematics. I was never mathematically inclined (as Mrs. Henning in the Second Grade informed me) and I think TGG has inherited my un-mathematical-ness (I KNOW it’s not a word…in the outside world. In this house it’s a perfectly good word, thank you.) Back in 2005 we waged massive battles to get TGG to actually do homework. The kid is brilliant! His IQ is high; his desire to use it to advantage is nil. TGG is one of those people who is smarter than is good for him, and who make parents tear their hair out in frustration on account of their laziness. For this one Math test (Algebra, perhaps? I can’t remember,) Dada had sat with him going over the material; there was such a vast amount of frustration at the kitchen table that it’s a miracle every meal after that night didn’t turn sour by osmosis.
TGG failed that test. He came home and announced he was angry at God for not answering his prayers to help him. I replied, in my usual tart fashion, that goes answers prayers, not Math tests. This I knew from experience. If I’d spent as much time studying for Algebra, Trigonometry and Geometry as I did praying for divine intervention in helping me pass, I’d have had a better chance. Instead of taking the “I’ll study more” tack, TGG decided to take the agnostic tack, and so we find ourselves (seven years later) still discussing God’s existence (or lack thereof) on a semi-regular basis.
I have my own logic for believing in God’s existence and, in my own informal way, I express my faith in his plan…and in his sense of humor. Perhaps because I grew up in a very traditionally Catholic household and attended Catholic school through high school, I am knowledgeable enough to steer clear from the aspects of organized religion that are in conflict with my Humanities-based academic choices starting in 1982.
I don’t speak openly about my faith. This is not because I am ashamed of it, but because people will then ask questions: which religion I profess? Where do I worship? Do I read the Bible? How does my faith reflect my political views? Do I think J’s autism is an act of God? How do I reconcile my faith with J’s disability? And, my personal favorite, am I worried about going to Hell?
I am a recovering Catholic. Every Lent I fall off the wagon. I am a big fan of the Virgin Mary, not because she was a virgin but because she was a mother, and she did make Jesus turn water into wine (ah, the power of mothers!) I believe in God and his grace and sense of humor. I think J is the way he is because it is the way he is, and if God willed my son’s situation for MY sake, I wish he’d left J out of it. I believe that God has a plan for each of us, and if we are patient and we are willing to pay attention, we will reap the benefits and rewards of God’s plan when it’s our turn to do so…
Am I worried about going to Hell? No. I am worried about leaving Hell behind when I go; that is, I am worried about the pain and concern, the upheaval and mayhem that my parting from this world might cause others. Last night I told my husband that I worry about the limited amount of towels we own. “When I die, if you run out of clean towels and no one remembers to do laundry, you’ll end up drying yourself with toilet paper. And what if you then run out of that?,” I said. “Is that why we currently own about a hundred rolls of toilet paper?,” he asked.
I am heading into Spring Break by putting the whole matter of J’s hats and keeping him entertained in God’s hands. (I can almost hear God using his best surfer-dude voice to say “so, what do you want me to do with this?” and laughing at me.) This doesn’t mean I’m not going to put in the very same amount of effort I’ve been putting on phasing out the hats and keeping J engaged. This doesn’t mean I’m throwing my hands up in the air and saying “ok, let’s do this!” This means I hope God will lean his ear in my direction during this time and listen to all my complaining.
I don’t think I have as much faith in God as he has in me. Why else would he entrust J to a person who didn’t learn to ride a bike until the age of ten? (Really. And don’t hold it against me…I was not very coordinated.) Why else would he allow me to discover patience after spending a whole lifetime being impatient?
I hope my views are not terribly irreverent, leading all you faithful followers to abandon me in droves. I’m just worried this morning. I am armed with an egg timer and I have a week of teenaged J at home in my schedule. What I used to solve swiftly with play-doh and jigsaw puzzles has become more complex, and I am ill-prepared for the coming week.
Here I go…I’m going to do my best to be a good, kind, and competent mother…and not lose my marbles in the process.